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10-6-15 Education Issues in the News

Star Ledger -  Two N.J. universities rank among the top 100 in the world, new rating says

By Kelly Heyboer | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com 
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on October 06, 2015 at 8:18 AM, updated October 06, 2015 at 11:45 AM


Thanks to an abundance of national rankings, U.S. colleges and universities have long known how they rate compared to their American peers.

But how do they stack up against the University of Oxford? Or the University of Tokyo?  Or the University of Buenos Aires?

U.S. News and World Report released its Best Global Universities list Tuesday, ranking 750 schools around the planet. American universities took 181 spots on the list, including the top spot.

Harvard University ranks as the best in the world, followed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California at Berkley, Stanford University and the University of Oxford in England.

The rest of the top 10 are: University of Cambridge in England, California Institute of Technology, University of California at Los Angeles, Columbia University and the University of Chicago.

RELATED: How did N.J. colleges do in new U.S. News ranking?

Princeton University (13th in the world) and Rutgers University (60th) were the only New Jersey schools to make the list.

"We have designed the rankings to be a starting point to help students," said Robert Morse of U.S. News.

This is the second year U.S. News has compiled a worldwide ranking. The publication, best known for its ranking of American colleges, expanded its global list from 500 colleges to 750 colleges and universities in 57 countries this year.

The list comes as a growing number of students are looking outside their own countries to attend college.

"We have designed the rankings to be a starting point to help students and their families identify institutions that speak to their specific needs, whether they are planning on staying close to home or traveling abroad for college – or whether they are seeking a specific academic degree," said Robert Morse, chief data strategist at U.S. News.

Princeton University has topped U.S. News' ranking of U.S. universities for several years. However, it ranked 13th on the global list this year, the same as last year.

RELATED: The 10 highest-paying college majors in N.J.

Because international universities do not use SAT scores or other tests commonly used in U.S. college rankings, the global list used a different methodology than the American list, Morse said.

The global rankings considered a university's reputation for research, publications and books produced by its students and faculty, conferences, international collaboration, number of doctorates awarded and other indicators.

U.S. News also ranked schools in each region. The University of Cape Town in South Africa was rated the best school in Africa. The University of Tokyo ranked as the top school in Asia. The University of Melbourne was at the top of the list in Australia/ New Zealand and Universidade de São Paulo in Brazil was best in Latin America.

Kelly Heyboer may be reached atkheyboer@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @KellyHeyboer. FindNJ.com on Facebook.

NJ Spotlight - Agenda: Honoring Teacher Of The Year, Reviewing Oversight Of Two Districts…Annual award at center stage, but State Board will also hear updates on Newark and Jersey City local control, release of PARCC scores


Date: Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015

Time: 10 a.m.

Where: New Jersey Department of Education, 1st-floor conference room, 100 River View Plaza, Trenton



What they are doing: The State Board of Education agenda is short of formal votes, but there will still be plenty of action.

Topping the list is the annual announcement of the New Jersey Teacher of the Year, selected from among 21 county award winners.

But the livelier discussion may come in separate presentations: one regarding the latest progress (or not) in Jersey City toward returning the school district to full local control and the other, by Superintendent Chris Cerf, on Newark’s progress toward that same goal.

In addition, there will be presentations on the planned release of PARCC scores in the coming weeks, the new statewide Week of Respect in schools, and the Christie administration’s broadband initiative.

Teacher of the Year: Always a ceremonial high point in the year, the board will celebrate the 2015 New Jersey Teacher of the Year. Selected from winners for each county, the yet-to-be-identified state winner will receive a paid sabbatical leave to travel across the state and share his or her expertise and insights.

State control: The board will get a double-dose of where the state stands regarding control of its two largest districts: Newark and Jersey City.

First, the board will hear from Newark superintendent and former state education commissioner Chris Cerf on his first year leading the district and what’s happening in the promised transition to local control.

There will then be a presentation on how Jersey City – under state control longer than any other district in New Jersey -- has fared in the latest round of state monitoring, and whether it will gain or lose any local controls. The district is already the furthest along in regaining control, albeit after nearly 30 years.

PARCC update: The state is just weeks away from seeing the first results of the controversial PARCC testing. State officials will explain how scores will be reported for each student, as well as scores for each school, district and the entire state will be released to the public. First to be released will be the the statewide scores, likely in the next couple of weeks, officials said.

Other business: The board will also hear a presentation on Week of Respect, a new state-mandated event promoting bullying prevention and community building in schools. Old Bridge school leaders will give a presentation on their district’s programs and experience.

The board will also hear about a new state initiative in which districts are coordinating the purchase of broadband Internet, saving districts tens of millions of dollars statewide, officials said.

Public testimony: While it won’t be voting on any code this month, the board will hear public testimony on two specific proposals. One involves proposed new code for bilingual education; the second has to do with expanding the scope of the Camden Educational Services Commission.

Star Ledger - When will PARCC scores come out in N.J.?

By Adam Clark | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com 
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on October 05, 2015 at 8:30 AM

The state Department of Education hopes to unveil preliminary state-level results of thePartnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exams around the middle of October, spokesman David Saenz said.TRENTON — Five months after New Jersey students completed controversial new state exams, the state says it is nearly ready to announce the results. 

The general timeframe for releasing PARCC scores for each school and sending score reports to parents will likely be discussed at the state Board of Education meeting on Oct. 7, Saenz said. 

RELATED: How the complicated process of finalizing PARCC results unfolds

"A lot of work and details still need to be hammered out," he said. 

New Jersey was one of about 10 states and the District of Columbia that administered PARCC exams last spring.

The new computerized tests, aligned to the Common Core standards, drew criticism from some parents and teachers who said the exams were too confusing and that testing and test-prep stole away too much instructional time.

Despite the backlash, top state education officials have maintained that the detailed PARCC score reports will tell teachers and parents more about student performance than prior standardized test scores. 

Teachers are looking forward to the release of the scores but are also skeptical about whether the results will truly reflect student achievement, said Wendell Steinhauer, president of New Jersey's largest teachers union, the New Jersey Education Association. 

Steinhauer expects the overall tests scores will be lower than years' past, a common result of a state switching to new tests, he said. The results may also be affected by students who refused to take the tests — part of an "opt out" movement — or those who participated but didn't put in much effort, he said. 

"I don't know what these test scores will really tell us," Steinhauer said. "Everything I hear from them is they are the best thing since sliced bread and they will tell us everything about every student and the data will be wonderful. But I guess we will have to wait and see once it comes out exactly what learned from these." 

Livingston Public Schools hopes to use the scores to see how students performed on specific skills, said Patricia Boland, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

The district wants to see to how students scored on reading comprehension and whether they were able to extract evidence from a text to support ideas and solve problems, Boland said. 

"We are looking forward to seeing how well we are doing compared to other states," Boland said.

Students from Illinois, Ohio and Massachusetts who took exams online struggled to meet the expectations for their grade level, according to preliminary PARCC results already announced by those states. 

In Ohio, only between 35 and 40 percent of students in most elementary and middle school grades met expectations. But a larger percentage of students took the test on paper in Ohio than in New Jersey, and those scores were not yet released. 

All results announced so far are incomplete and based on only one of several different versions of the PARCC exams for each grade level, said David Connerty-Marin, spokesman for PARCC.

However, the final test results may not be much different, he said. 

Adam Clark may be reached at adam_clark@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on twitter at @realAdamClarkFind NJ.com on Facebook.